Prototyping Firefox With CSS Grid

Prototyping with HTML and CSS grid is really helpful for understanding flexibility models. I was able to understand how my design works in a way that was completely different than doing it in a static design program.

Links:

Transcript:
So I’m working on a design of the new address bar in Firefox. Our code name for it is the QuantumBar. There’s a lot of pieces to this. But one of the things that I’ve been trying to figure out is how it fits into the Firefox toolbar and how it collapses and expands, the squishiness of the toolbar, and trying to kinda rethink that by just building it in code. So I have this sort of prototype here where I’ve recreated the Firefox top toolbar here in HTML, and you can see how it like collapses and things go away and expands as I grow and shrink this here.

I’ve used CSS Grid to do a lot of this layout. And here I’ve turned on the grid lines just for this section of the toolbar. It’s one of the many grids that I have here. But I wanna point out these like flexible spaces over here, and then this part here, the actual QuantumBar piece, right? So you can see I’ve played around with some different choices about how big things can be at this giant window size here. And I was inspired by my friend, Jen Simmons, who’s been talking about Grid for a long time, and she was explaining how figuring out whether to use minmax or auto or fr units. It’s something that is, you can only really figure out by coding it up and a little trial and error here. And it allowed me to understand better how the toolbar works as you squish it and maybe come up with some better ways of making it work.

Yeah, as we squish it down, maybe here we wanna prioritize the width of this because this is where the results are gonna show up in here, and we let these flexible spaces squish a little sooner and a little faster. And that’s something that you can do with Grid and some media queries like at this point let’s have it squished this way, at this point let’s have it squished another way. Yeah, and I also wanted to see how it would work then if your toolbar was full of lots of icons and you have the other search bar and no spacers, how does that work? And can we prioritize maybe the size of the address bar a little more so that because you’ll notice on the top is the real Firefox, we can get in weird situations where this, it’s just not even usable anymore. And maybe we should stop it from getting that small and still have it usable.

Anyway it’s a thing I’ve been playing with and what I’ve found was that using HTML and CSS to mock this up had me understand it in a way that was way better than doing it in some sort of static design program.

Originally posted on the Firefox UX blog.

How I design Firefox with GoodNotes 5

I’m always making notes and sketching on my iPad and people often ask me what app I’m using. So I thought I’d make a video of how I use GoodNotes 5 in my design practice.

Links:

Transcript:
Hi, I’m Michael Verdi, and I’m a product designer for Firefox. Today, I wanna talk about how I use sketching on my iPad in my design practice. So, first, sketching on a iPad, what I really like about it is that these apps on the iPad allow me to collect all my stuff in one place. So, I’ve got photos and screenshots, I’ve got handwritten notes, typed up notes, whatever, it’s all together. And I can organize it, and I can search through it and find what I need.

There’s really two basic kind of apps that you can use for this. There’s drawing and sketching apps, and then there’s note-taking apps. Personally, I prefer the note-taking apps because they usually have better search tools and organization. The thing that I like that I’m gonna talk about today is GoodNotes 5.

I’ve got all kinds of stuff in here. I’ve got handwritten notes with photographs, I’ve got some typewritten notes, screenshots, other things that I’ve saved, photographs, again. Yeah, I really like using this. I can do storyboards in here, right, or I can draw things, copy and paste them so that I can iterate quickly, make multiple variations over and over again. I can stick in screenshots and then draw on top of them or annotate them. Right, so, let me do a quick demo of using this to draw.

So, one of the things that I’ll do is actually, maybe I’ve drawn some stuff before, and I’ll save that drawing as an image in my photo library. And then I’ll come stick it in here, and I’ll draw on top of it. So, I work on search, so here’s Firefox with no search box. So, I’m gonna draw one. Let’s use some straight lines to draw one. I’m gonna draw a big search box, but I’m doing it here in the middle because I’m gonna place it a little better in a second. And we have the selection tool, and I’m gonna make the, the selection is not selecting images, right? So, I can come over here and just grab my box, and then I can move my box around on top. Okay, so, I still have this gray line. I can’t erase that because it’s an image. So, I’m gonna come over here, and I’m gonna get some white, and I’m gonna just draw over it. Right, okay. Let’s go back and get my gray color. I can zoom in when I need to, and I’m gonna copy this, and I’m gonna pate it a bunch of times. Then I can annotate this. Right, so, there we go.

Another thing that I really like about GoodNotes is the ability to search through stuff that you’ve done. So, I’m gonna search here, and I’m gonna search for spaces. So, this was a thing that we mocked up with a storyboard. This is it right here. And it recognized my, it read my handwriting, which is really cool. So, I can find this thing in a notebook of a jillion pages. But there’s also another way to find things. So, you have this view here, this is called the outline view. These are sorta like named bookmarks. There’s also a thumbnail view, right? Here’s all the pages in this notebook. But if I go to the outlines, so, here, I did some notes about a critique format, and I can jump right to them. But let’s say this new drawing, well, where did I do it? This new drawing, I wanna be able to get to this all the time, right? So, I can come up here, and I can say Add This Page to the Outline, and now I can give it a name. And I don’t know what I’m gonna call this, so I’m just callin’ it sample for right now. And so, now it is in the outline. Oh, I guess I had already done this as a demo. But there it is. And that’s how I can get to it now. That’s super, super cool.

Okay, and then one last thing I wanna show you about this is templates. So, I actually made this template to better fit my setup here. I’ve got no status bar at the top. And then these are just PDFs. And you can import your own. And I can change the template for this page, and I’ve made a storyboard template. And I can apply that here. And now I’ve got a thing so I can draw a storyboard. Or maybe I don’t wanna do a storyboard, but what else do I have? Oh, I wanna do a crazy eights exercise. So, now I’ve got one ready for a crazy eight exercise. I love these templates, they’re super handy. I’ll include those in the post with this, a link to some of these things.

So, that’s sketching on the iPad with GoodNotes 5. Thanks for watching.

Originally posted on the Firefox UX blog.

Elapsed Time: 155 Days, 3 Hours, 19 Minutes, 7 Seconds

It’s been a while since I last posted and even though I’m the only one who reads this I feel the need to account for the 5+ months. It’s mainly been work with some cool travel interspersed. So here are some highlights.

March 30th was my 9yr anniversary at Mozilla. I’ve been working on all things related to search for the last 16 months. Nothing much has been released in Firefox yet but we just spent our All Hands week in Whistler planning out all the cool stuff we’re going to build the second half of this year. Also, I got to make these cool videos for the plenary. It was so much fun.

Over the spring I got to visit some pretty beautiful places. First we visited the Grand Canyon. I hiked all the way down and back up in one day with some friends. It was amazing. Then we went to Zion. It looks like some kind of fantasy Leonardo da Vinci landscape. Also amazing. Then it was another trip to Big Bend were we did the South Rim trail and then gazed at stars. Finally, we spent our anniversary and my birthday in Maui. More amazing.

New download and install flow for Firefox 55

It’s been quite a while (January!) since I posted an update about the onboarding work we’ve been doing. If you’ve been using Nightly or read any of the Photon Engineering newsletters, you may have seen the new user tour we’re building but onboarding encompasses much more than that and we shipped some important pieces in Firefox 55 today.

The experiment we ran back in February (along with a follow up in May) went really well*. We had 4 important successes:

  1. The changes to the installer resulted in 8% more installs (that’s unheard of!).
  2. We retained 2.4% more of the people who went through our new experience. (combined with the installer change that means 10.6% more people using Firefox).
  3. Ratings for the new flow were on par with ratings of the existing flow. In addition, in user research, participants responded positively to the art on the new download page and installer and some were delighted by the animation on the firstrun page.

    I thought it was really cute. Especially the little sunrise at the beginning. That was precious. I thought it was kind of ingenious. It kind of implied that you’re using a product that’s pulling you into the light. Something like that. It was a cute little interactive feature which I really enjoyed.
    – Research participant

  4. Changing the /firstrun page to a sign in flow instead of a sign up flow resulted in a 14.8% increase in people ending up with second device connected to sync (which is the whole point of sync).

So today with Firefox 55 we shipped a new streamlined installer, we moved the default browser ask to the second session and we now open the privacy notice in a second tab instead of displaying a bottom notification bar. These changes join the new download and firstrun pages that shipped 2 weeks ago.

Here’s a quick video of Firefox 55 in action.

It is not an easy feat to build a whole new flow that cuts a swath across internal organizations and I’m incredibly proud of the work our team did to get here. And there’s a lot more to come (like that new user tour) that I’ll outline in another post.

*We weren’t able to properly test the automigration feature (automatically importing your stuff from another browser) back in February because of underlying performance issues that we discovered in the migration tool. We fixed many of the performance issues with migration but a subsequent test revealed that they haven’t all been fixed. Sadly, in a flow where we do this silently, some people just experiences a janky, slow Firefox. So we’re not going to ship automigration for now and instead we’re going to replace the modal import wizard on startup with a non-modal message embedded in Activity Stream beginning in Firefox 57.